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18 Sep 2017
Industry experts observe cautious optimism at PropertyGuru Thailand Real Estate Summit 2017
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More than 130 real estate leaders, experts and media practitioners exchanged ideas at the inaugural PropertyGuru Thailand Real Estate Summit on Thursday (14 September) held at the Plaza Athenée Bangkok (a Royal Meridien hotel), with delegates leaving with a sense of cautious optimism.

The day-long conference featured more than 20 speakers and panellists, beginning with the opening keynote address of Mr Bhuthong Thongyai, Director of Entrepreneur Development, Department of Business Development, from the Ministry of Commerce. In his keynote, Mr Bhuthong said the Thai government continues to encourage investment as tourism numbers continues to grow, which in turns creates the necessary demand for residential property.

“However, there is the issue of rising land prices and the pressure it puts on developers, as well the concern for oversupply of units, which the government recommends to focus on other demographics by creating properties for the elderly, young workers and potential buyers outside Bangkok,” he added.

The afternoon keynote was given by Mr Korn Chatikavanij, former Finance Minister of Thailand, who tackled the issues of bank financing, housing loans, “fintech” and opportunities in refinancing to benefit consumers and the market.

“Bank financing is important because it might be disastrous to a country – we all need to know the importance of having a sound financial regulation,” he said, noting that currently only around 8 to 10 percent of local banks focus on refinancing.

The former Finance Minister, who now chairs the Thai Fintech Association, also said that real estate is very personal and how it’s financed matters to an individual. “Once people own a stake, I can assure you that they become more instinctively interested on how their country is run.”

In the end, Mr Korn said that everyone’s ultimate goal should be to have a strong finance sector and create stronger households for a more secure economy and future.

Other highlights of the Summit, which followed the theme “Thailand’s Real Estate Evoluton,” included meaningful sessions for the strength of the hospitality segment despite the market downturn, inbound investments, the branded residences segment that now define many luxury properties, and the hot topic of property technology (“proptech”) and blockchain.

Renowned Southeast Asian hospitality expert Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks, conducted a very lively session before the networking lunch break. He explained that Thailand has been blessed with great geography made for tourism, which is part of the reason why the hotel industry continues to flourish despite a market downturn.

“In Thailand, there’s a megacity like Bangkok, several mini metro areas, and urban resorts, as well as the opportunities of Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). The opening of the BTS Skytrain in the last two decades had been the biggest game-changer for the sector, creating a new paradigm and allowing residents and tourists to easily reach new destinations in the capital,” he said.

The proliferation of low-cost flights promoted mass tourism, as well as the popularity of festivals, and the synergy between real estate and tourism, have also enabled developers to build “poshtels,” co-living projects, branded residences, pop-ups, and wellness or medical tourism properties, according to Barnett.

Meanwhile, Amarit “Aim” Charoenphan, CEO and co-founder of HUBBA Thailand Co-Working Space and Techsauce Thailand, said PropTech startups will rise by USD3.4 billion in 2017, and more tech awareness and education are necessary. “In addition, a company who wants to pursue this path in proptech needs a CEO’s vision and his organisation’s full support, citing as an example Ananda Development’s successful “UrbanTech” strategy.

Aim said that while virtual reality (VR) might not have proven to be useful yet, in the future it would be. “Companies need to learn how to utilise data, and it’s important to democritise real estate investment and have a financing mindset, that may create, for example, mortgage tech banks partnerships,” he concluded.

Chaired by Kipsan Beck, managing director of MahaNakhon, the PropertyGuru Thailand Real Estate Summit 2017 was supported by Thailand’s No.1 property website DDproperty.com, the official portal partner; THAI Airways International, the official airline partner; hpa, the official breakfast and lunch sponsor; supporting associations British Chamber of Commerce Thailand, Startup Thailand, and the National Innovation Agency; and media partners Oxford Business Group, Techsauce.co, and PropertyGuru Property Report, Asia’s leading luxury real estate, architecture and design publication.

The PropertyGuru Thailand Real Estate Summit is part of the PropertyGuru Asia Real Estate Summit 2017 conference series, which began in Malaysia last August and will now move on to Singapore for a two-day regional conference to be held on 7-8 November at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

Speaking, sponsorship and media partnership opportunities are available for the next Summit. For bookings and enquiries, contact ARES@propertyguru.com or visit the official website: AsiaRealEstateSummit.com

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